(Posted by Toni V. Sweeney for Tony-Paul de Vissage)

to all the Fuzzies for allowing me to blog today! I thought to promote my new novel, but knowing how much you ladies love animals, I chose also to write about two of the most intriguing characters in the story, who are also most important to the hero--a little red chihuahua and a sorrel saddle horse.

The Chihuahua is the only canine breed indigenous to the New World. Named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua, it is also the world's smallest breed, generally being within 6-10 inches tall and weighing no more than 10 pounds. The Chihuahua originated in Mexico, where it was a companion of the Toltecs as well as a helper to their gods. Dating back as far as the second century, it is believed to have hunted in packs. (Can you imagine a pack of feral chihuahuas?) Called by the Mayans techichi (and those who saw Beverly Hills Chihuahua may recognize that as the name of the city where stolen heroine Chloe is taken by the "lost" tribe of chihuahuas), in the Mayan belief, Techichi was the name of the small red dog who greeted the souls of the deceased and conveyed them to Yaxache, the Tree of Heaven. There they were judged by Huban Ku, the mouth and eyes of the Sun and the Lord of Heaven. The lucky ones were allowed to stay and live under its branches.

In Dark God Descending, Semris the demon has his own techichi. Kidnapped by a publicity-mad scientist and aided in escaping by his human friend, Tuck, he is wounded and lies unconscious in a pasture. When he awakens, he finds himself face-to-face with a small red dog, a chihuahua, who licks his face. At first, Semris thinks he's died and the techichi has come to take him to Yaxache. Only later does he realize that the little animal is the pet of a young woman who comes to the pasture to see her horse, which is an animal the Mayan godling has never seen before.


There was a sudden rustling. A high-pitched bark. A tiny red dog stood there, looking up at him with bright eyes, large ears erect, its tail wagging rapidly.

"Techichi!" Sight of it made him weak with happiness. Clumsily, he rolled onto one hip to face it, hold his hand out to the little animal. "Have you come to guide me to Heaven?"

In answer, the little dog took two steps forward and began to lick the red stains off his palm. Semris stared. It wasn't affected by the touch of his blood! Surely, it was a divine creature!

With another bark, it leaped into his arms, and the demon clasped it tightly to his chest, lurching around to lean against the trough again. The dog yipped once more and began to lick his face.

Semris smiled and turned his head to escape the slavering tongue. "Have you come to take me to Yaxche?"

Yes, that's where he wanted to go! To the Tree of Heaven, under whose branches all good souls rejoiced, where Hunab Ku, the mouth and eyes of the Sun and Lord of Heavens would welcome him. Briefly, he wondered if he would be allowed to sit under Yaxache. He'd been a good ruler, just and fair in spite of his sometimes irreverence. Surely that would count.

Semris closed his eyes, waiting to be swept away by the techichi's magic.

"Paco! Paaa-cooo!" From somewhere far off, someone called. The little dog barked again and placed his forepaws on Semris' chest. The over-sized ears quivered and it turned its head and whimpered. "Paco!"

The techichi scrambled from Semris' arms, dashed around the corner of the water trough and disappeared.


The chihuahua is Paco, inquisitive and spoiled pet of Tuck's fiancee, Shannon. There is another animal in the pasture, once which inspire momentary fear--even in a demon--the horse Wildfire.


Something soft touched Semris' cheek, traveled upward to his temple. There was an odd snuffling sound and warm breath against his skin.

"Techichi?" He raised his uninjured hand, reaching out, and opened his eyes as his fingers touched the same soft object. The next moment, he was giving a startled yell and wrapping his arms protectively around his head as the creature towering above him jerked up its head and stumbled backward.

It trotted a few feet away and stood there, snorting nervously.

Semris dropped his arms, staring at the beast.

He'd never seen a creature like it. Four-legged and taller than a mortal, its coat the same dark red as the mud in which he lay, long tail blown gently by the early morning breeze as was the hair on its thick neck. It didn't appear to be dangerous however, if the mild brown eyes peering from under the heavy forelock were any indication--simply curious, and perhaps, even a little frightened by his sudden shout.

"What manner of animal are you? Are you raised by Tuck's people for food? Are you some strange deer or goat?" The creature snorted again and butted its head against his hand, and Semris came around the other side of the trough toward it. "Nohoch. Big one."

He touched the long neck, resting his fingers against the glossy hide. It was smooth and soft and warm. The creature leaned against his fingers and he began to stroke it gently, sliding his hand down the thickly-muscled shoulders and deep chest.


Both Paco and Wildfire play an important role in Semris' introduction to the world of humans. Paco becomes Semris' companion, following at the demon's heels, especially at dinner time when he sits under the table to receive the morsels of food which a supernatural digestive system can't tolerate. Wildfire plays a more important role as Semris' curiosity about the animal, whom he believes was sent by the sun god to save his life, throws him into an affinity with Shannon. Riding Wildfire, he truly feels he is Emperor of the Heavens, and with Shannon before him on the big horse's back, he thinks he has everything a man could want. It is Wildfire, or Nohoch, as Semris calls him, who makes Semris realize he is experiencing the most human of emotions--and one of which he's always been curious.



Dark God Descending is set for a mid-October release by sams dot publishing. Just in time for Hallowe'en!

Yesterday an icon of the publishing industry, Ms. Kate Duffy, took flight to her heavenly home. I didn’t know Kate personally. We’ve met at conferences and workshops. She rejected a project of mine. Years later, I know she was right in her comments. I learned a lot about the industry and great writing through her workshops, where she took her Mache and slashed a part queries and first pages and her articles featured in the RWR. She was a just-give-me-the-right-word-instead-of-ten, lady. Thank you, Kate for your time. I’m sure she will be truly missed by all of those she held dear.

In honor of Kate's passing, I’m posting this blog. The body of it first appeared on my own blog several months ago, but I think it conveys a message that is important to remember.

MY HEART beats faster than a teenager who is about to be kissed for the first time. Why you ask? Life. A simple four letter word that holds meaning beyond any other. Life.

Life takes over sometimes. It gets in our way, causes our desires to be on hold and plays havoc with our goals. Life frustrates us, causes us to worry and keeps us up all night. Life can be sucky and suck our energy, leaving us drained, unable to think.

But life also brings us friends and family, laughter and love.
Deep breath. Again. Even though life spins us in circles, it’s important to remember to stop and breathe. Slow down, lighten up, chill out and enjoy what life is teaching us. The circle of life is ever evolving and when it’s your turn to step up, you need to take the wheel. Keep in mind, the job, the project, the plans can be replaced- moments in life can’t. Chill; a closing door opens another.
Life is why we exist. And it’s what makes a great story.
So today, in honor of Kate, stop for moments, breathe and take notes. Live a great scene.

A lilac scented breeze lifts my hair and softly caresses my cheek. Two golden finches chirp excitedly in unison over the birdfeeder. My husband’s warm hand covers mine and my heart beats like a teenager about to be kissed. Life.

Give Up or Sell? Here’s What I Did.

Welcome, Thesese Walsh. I know the ladies here will find your first sale inspiring, too. I did!

In June of 2008, I finally—after years of working on a story concept—found an agent. In July, she sold my book, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, in a two-book deal to Random House.

That’s the happy ending.

But as we writers know, every happy ending is preceded by a dark moment, when all seems lost. I had such a moment, and I’d like to tell you about it.

In March of 2008, with a finished manuscript in hand, I started seriously searching for an agent. I had done my research, had my dream list before me…you know the drill. I was hopeful but nervous. I’d been working on my manuscript since 2002, in one form or another. I say “one form or another” because Last Will started as a traditional romance and then morphed into something Other—but not before I finished it as a romance and had it rejected as a romance, after two years worth of work. One agent, the fabulous Deidre Knight, gave me some advice: “You should be writing women’s fiction.”

In 2005, I started writing the story over again. In 2006, after realizing I *still* hadn’t gotten it right, I scrapped most of a full third of the novel and began a third time.

It’s hard to persist for so long on a project, especially when you’ve already been rejected, especially when you’re not yet published. So now you know why I was hopeful but nervous.

I wrote my query letters, wrote my synopsis, and sent my first batch of submissions. One of the agents to whom I submitted my work was a Big Time Agent. This agent knew what he was talking about. Being picked up by him would mean fabulous things for my future.

He requested the full.

You can imagine my excitement, my almost uncontainable glee!

And then he rejected. He was nice about it. He gave me some tips. He wished me well. I, being a pushy girl, asked him if he knew of others within his agency who might connect with my work. He wasn’t sure, but he mentioned one female agent. “She’s very busy, though,” he said. Not a lot of hope there, but I, being a very pushy girl, decided to give the busy agent a try.

I wrote a new query, printed a new synopsis, mailed a new submission to this other agent. Soon after, I was asked by an assistant to this agent for a partial, and then the full.

And then, the strangest thing, I was contacted once again by the Big Time Agent.

“You’ve made our assistant cry with your story,” he said. “I’m going to reconsider. Stay tuned.” Later he emailed me, “Call me later. I’d like to talk.” He gave me his number.

I kind of knew this wasn’t the way things were supposed to work. When agents loved and wanted to represent you, they called *you* to tell you, right? But this was Big Time Agent. Maybe he did things differently. I was nearly bursting with hope. But you know what happens with things that want to burst.

When I called he said, “I’m probably not going to tell you what you’re hoping for. Really, I have a lot of questions.”


“Okay,” I said, and opened my ears.

He did have a lot of questions, but he also had a lot to say—about what he felt wasn’t working in the story. And there was a lot that wasn’t working, in his estimation. Large chunks of and even critical elements in the story were not only “not quite right,” they were plain “wrong.”

If ever there was a time I wanted to quit trying, toss my manuscript in the trash and pretend I’d never dreamed a dream, it was when Big Time Agent told me that my story wasn’t publishable. I couldn’t see it. I’d believed the story was finished and that it rang true, and that it was ready. I’d felt that it was ready in my gut. If he was right, and my story was that flawed, then my gut was flawed. Very flawed. And I believed that if you can’t count on your gut, it’s time to hang it up.

But the weirdest thing happened. Somewhere from deep inside my little old self, a voice peeped up, shy at first, weak, then stronger—like the stale and tiny heart of the Grinch swelling to life inside his otherwise vacant chest after he had a realization. And my book—it was like Christmas. It was there, and it had come, and I believed in it.

I remember telling my husband in our kitchen: “No, he’s wrong. Big Time Agent is wrong. The book is ready. You’ll see.”

My husband didn’t need me to tell him this, because he believed already; he was just proud and thrilled that I finally did, too.

And you know what happened next, because I’ve already shared my happy ending with you: I wrote a new query, printed a new synopsis, mailed a new submission to this other agent—an agent named Elisabeth Weed. And she asked for the partial and asked for the full, and then called me herself on the phone to tell me she loved the book. She became my agent, and she sold my book to Random House in a preemptive two-book deal. And I don’t tell you that to brag. I tell you that to say, “See now. The gut knows so much more than a mere mortal agent—even a Big Time Agent.”

What is your gut telling you about your work? Listen to it, especially when it tells you your story is worthwhile and that you are a fantastic writer. Never, never quit on your gut, yourself or your dreams.

Write on, all!

Thanks again, Mary! Today is my daughter’s birthday. Sounds like a lucky day to me. :-)

All best,

Therese Walsh
Author of The Last Will of Moira Leahy
(Random House, October 2009)
101 Best Websites (Writer's Digest, '07, '08 & '09)

If I could wish for one thing to give to people, it would be a cure for cancer. Since there is no cure, yet, I offer this. If you can prevent it, that's the next best thing!

John Hopkins Update - Good article


Cancer Update from Johns Hopkins :

1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.

2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's lifetime.

3 When the person's immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.

4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.

5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.

6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastrointestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.

7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.

8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.

9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications .

10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.

11. An effective way to battle cancer is to starve the cancer cells by not feeding it with the foods it needs to multiply..


a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer cells. Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses, but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in color. Better alternative is Bragg's aminos or sea salt.

b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soy milk cancer cells are being starved.

c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.

d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes to nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells. To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts) and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).

e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer fighting properties. Water-best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.

12.. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines becomes putrefied and leads to more toxic buildup.

13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body's killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.

14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence, Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the bodies own killer cells to destroy cancer cells.. Other suppl ements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded cells.

15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger, un-forgiveness and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.

16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.
1. No plastic containers in micro.

2. No water bottles in freezer.

3. No plastic wrap in microwave.

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in its newsletters. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed ArmyMedical& nbsp;Center as well. Dioxin chemicals cause cancer, especially breast cancer. Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies. Don't freeze your plastic bottles with water in them as this releases dioxins from the plastic. Recently, Dr. Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Cast le Hospital, was on a TV program to explain this health hazard. He talked about dioxins and how bad they are for us. He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers. This especially applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body. Instead, he recommends using glass, such as Corning Ware, Pyrex or ceramic containers for heating food You get the same results, only without the dioxin. So such things as TV dinners, instant ramen and soups, etc., should be removed from the container and heated in something else. Paper isn't bad but you don't know what is in the paper. It's just safer to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc. He reminded us that a while ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons.

Also, he pointed out that plastic wrap, such as Saran, is just as dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous toxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food. Cover food with a paper towel instead.
I wish you well!!

It's the weekend and I should be writing. Instead I've been playing Grandmother, which happens to be my all time favorite job at the moment. I'm working to grow a romance reader. I gave my granddaughter my new e-reader to play with just now. I opened it to a Jane Austin novel and she sat for about an hour reading before she became bored. She's only ten, but it's never too early to start them reading.

I teach 8th grade and for the last couple of years my students have been much better readers than in previous years. This is a very good thing. I credit the improvement to our school system's all out effort to increase our students reading ability. This year in particular, we are using the strategy of having an AR book always at hand.

For years, we went with no children carrying library books around with them, until now with the demands set forth by the state of Georgia under the guidance of No Child Left Behind, every child at our middle school is expected to take an AR book to every class. It had been years since I'd noticed children actually using free time in class to read, but this year it is happening! Our students are reading. They are carrying big thick books with them and they are reading!

The effort to increase our student's performance on standardized testing is paying off for the authors who toil to create the books our children read. A whole new crop of readers are emerging like butterflies struggling from their cocoons. It is magic to see! Watching my granddaughter go from a struggling reader to an avid reader has been nothing short a miracle. She's a bit young yet for the good stuff, but when she's old enough, she'll be ready.

Recently, I won a free copy of Anna Kathryn Lanier's novella Salvation Bride. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and wanted to share it with everyone.

In the little town of Salvation, Texas, widower sheriff David Slade anxiously awaits the arrival of the stage. He's anxious because one of the passengers is a woman whom he's never met in person--his mail-order bride. Everyone in town is aware of what he's done and, to his consternation, it appears that they are all just as eager as he to see the lady, so there's a rather large welcoming committee waiting to meet the young woman. They aren't aware that David has asked Laura Ashton to marry him to get a housekeeper and a mother for his three-year-old daughter, Ginny, as well as to receive her five thousand dollar dowry because he's nearly submerged in debt, a fact of which he is ashamed.

Laura has ulterior motives for marrying David, also, and hasn't been exactly honest with him. She's willing to leave her home in the East and travel all the way to Texas to marry a stranger--yes--but what David doesn't know is that Laura has more than five thousand dollars at her disposal, and she's also a licensed physician. The reason she accepted his proposal is a little more basic. An unwanted suitor had tried to force himself upon her in hopes of making her marry him so he can gain control of her money, and running away is the only way to escape him.

So, she and David are wed, and it doesn't take long for Laura to find herself firmly settled in David's home, his daughter's heart, and--after a very short time--his own heart as well. Determined to have their marriage be in name only because they've had no time to get to know each other or court, David's promise lasts only a short while once the ring is on Laura's finger (and off again, because it's too large and she nearly loses it.)

Problems immediately rise, of course. Laura thinks David's emotional withdrawal from her is because he's still in love with his dead wife. She doesn't know he suffers from guilt because of things that happened to his wife while he was in a Northern prison camp during the War Between the States. David refuses to allow Laura to practice medicine because he fears people will think he can't provide for her. When she gives him more money to buy a nearby ranch to add to his own spread, this shames him, although he accepts it. These worries appear minimal, however, when Ebner Moody arrives from Laura's former home, claiming he's her lawful husband and he's come to take her back with him. Now, David finally admits he loves Laura and refuses to let her go, but Moody has a marriage certificate signed by both Laura and himself. David is determined to prove it a fake.

The interaction between David and Laura--both at their first meeting, their one-night "honeymoon" and their life at David's ranch--is at first awkward and shy, then emotional and filled with what neither recognizes as slowly-developing love. David thinks he's being lustful, Laura decides to accept whatever he gives her. Their feelings for each other have just begun to be revealed when Moody shows up, and it becomes the catalyst for the drama that comes afterward.

Salvation Bride is a short piece of fiction which I wish had been longer. Perhaps some day, the author will add to it and make it into a full-length novel.

(Salvation Bride is a Cactus Rose Miniature Rose, released by The Wild Rose Press.)

NANO Anyone?

Posted by Scarlet Pumpernickel | 11:04 PM | , , , , | 17 comments »

It's almost that time again. Are you ready? Can you take it? Have you tried it? Do you even know what NaNo is? November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNo for short. You clear the decks, come up with an idea and write. No excuses, no stopping, no revisions, just write for the entire month. Every day for a month you write. The goal is to complete 50,000 words, a complete first draft of a new novel. NaNo is not for the faint of heart. NaNo tests your staying power. It challenges you commitment. NaNo can become an obsession, a fire in your being that decrees you have to write.

My first experience with NaNo came several years ago and it was, I guess, what jump-started my desire to write.

You see, I'd given up writing several years before. Call it burn-out, disillusionment or life getting in the way. Whatever it was, it crippled my writing career. Like so many of my fellow writers, I came to the craft young, uninhibited and idealistic. I threw myself into the process at the deep end and promptly sank to the bottom of the writing pool. I allowed rejection to rob me of the pleasure of writing. My eager, tender, idealistic self was too thin-skinned for the real world of writing. The writing world passed me by while I sat on the sidelines. Of course, there were other things at play in my life that took away my writing time. The marriages and divorces of each of my children, the birth of my grandchild, earning two college degrees and building a career in education all played a role. But those things could not have stopped me from writing, had I not lost the spark than made we want to write in the first place.

NaNo was the thing that put the spark back into my desire to write. I ran across an article on the internet about it. When I read it I remembered the thrill of putting words on paper, the pleasure of crafting a story, the love of writing. For that month, I pushed all the daily events aside and I wrote. Every day, day in and day out, for the month of November. I didn't worry about getting it right, I wrote. I didn't worry about "the rules," I wrote. When the month ended I was able to type "the end" and print out a completed first draft of a novel. It was nothing short of magic!

The thrill was back, the sparkle was back, the pleasure was back. And the rest, as they say, is history! Scarlet was back!

NaNo anyone?

We’ve all read a story with a larger-than-life hero or an unforgettable heroine. But what really makes these characters connect with the audience while others fall flat? What makes EVE DALLAS, STEPHANIE PLUM, JESSE STONE, and RICHARD RAHL memorable? (see footnotes)

In my opinion, internal conflict is the key to making your characters sparkle on the page. This is how readers understand motivations and actions. This is what makes each character tick. What happened during Eve Dallas’s childhood to make her such a staunch defender of the underdog? Why is achieving justice so important to her? Finding answers to these questions is only the first step.

Then the hard work begins.

How do we, as writers, transfer those characters to the written page? I assure you it’s easier said than done. For it requires a journey through the writer’s inner conflicts. It requires a self examination of our own insecurities, those nagging uncertainties that keep us from believing in ourselves.

Let’s dissect three such hindrances to making characters memorable.

• Fear of exposing ourselves to the world: When I first started writing, I struggled with this every time I sat down at my computer. Being a Christian, I was afraid of what my pastor and friends would think about me writing romance. I second guessed every word on the page. No swearing allowed, no vivid sex scenes. Only after I could separate myself from my writing and step outside my comfort zone was I able to release my creative energy and write protagonists readers could relate to and fall in love with.

Fear of facing inner demons: Life is not always pretty. We’ve all seen or personally experienced life-changing events. Learning to tap into my past heartaches, pains, and failures helped me to breathe life into my characters. I used all those raw emotions to show how my heroes/heroines handle the conflict in their lives. Along the way I discovered that just as my characters had to endure an emotional journey to grow, I did also.

• Fear of rejection: There’s always a small part of ourselves in every character we create. Either the person reflects who we are now or who we desire to be deep down inside. In essence, we’re putting ourselves out there to be judged, never an easy thing to do, but something that must be overcome. Unforgettable characters find the courage to take chances. They evolve over time and learn to trust in themselves.

I once overheard the quote: Pain and fear are temporary. Glory is forever. I remind myself of this every time doubt creeps into my writing. I use it as my motivational mantra. Holding it close to my heart helps me to purge my internal struggles and write my own larger-than-life characters.

Are you up to the challenge?

by Mary Marvella Barfield

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Marvella who learned to read. Other children around her learned to read, but Marvella was different from most of the children. Marvella loved to read so much she could never be seen without her nose in a book.

Well, Marvella read novels, lots of them. She read the classics. Some of the books she read weren't classics then, but they are now.

Marvella loved to tell stories, too. She still tells stories. Now she writes them. She enjoyed writing them until she learned that there so many rules.

Here the fairytale veers off and the real world intrudes.

Who makes the rules?

Publishers have rules and they are entitled to decide what they will buy. Some rules are stated in their guidelines and some are known only by the editors who offer the contracts we all covet.

Are there other rules? I hear them all the time. They refer to things writers cannot do in their books. Some are made by other writers. They can knock a writer and the fairytale princess from her tower. They would surely keep a prince from rescuing the princess if the prince doesn't follow those rules.

If you have stories to tell, you can try to learn all the rules or you can tell your stories the way you need to tell them.

What if you are one of the writers whose stories and styles don't fit the rules? Learn who made the rules. It the rules are publisher or genre rules, follow them or you won't sell to those publishers or in that genre.

If the rules are made by other writers, you should do with them what you can. You might consider them suggestions. Some can be helpful and strengthen your writing while others will stifle you.

Keep in mind that not all readers like to read the same books or the same authors. I say this because I am a reader as well as a writer. Write what you like to read. If your goal is about selling, you need to spend more time learning the rules and how you can follow them. Just be sure the rules are made by people who can publish your books.

If you write because you have stories you must tell, write them. Keep looking for the publisher who sells the kind of stories you like to write. Trends come and go. The books you can't sell today might fit a new trend in the future or even break ground for a new trend.

Keep in mind that we write stories for readers and for ourselves.

I am still a reader and I don't read by rules.

How do you feel about the people who judge our stories by rules.

Years ago I taught at Duluth High School, in Duluth, Georgia. It was very much a small town school when I started teaching English/language arts there. I finally made my way to a class reunion for several classes.

It seemed so odd to see the high school kids I taught as forty-something men and women. Many had changed so much I needed the name tags. Actually several of the students said they needed the tags, too.
I wandered in, wondering if I would feel out of place. Well, I didn't! By the time I left I was "feeling the love". Yep, my kids hugged me, took pictures, and squealed their excitement at seeing me there.I finally gave them permission to call me Mary instead of Mrs. Barfield. It's time.

My babies are doctors, lawyers, one forensic scientist, a former pro football star and some are even grandparents. Now, that's scary! Some are now my friends on Facebook so I can keep in touch .

Some of the high school sweethearts are even still together. There was dancing and food but I most enjoyed talking with my kids as adults!

Some of my babies have passed away and that's sad.

More photos will be on Facebook soon.

Do you even see your old teachers? Do you think about what they are doing?

Several weeks ago, I saw the Julie and Julia movie with a group of moms and our college age daughters. We all really enjoyed it and thought the film extremely well done. Meryl Streep did an excellent portrayal of Julia Child, whom I grew up watching on PBS, and Amy Adams was an appealing Julia wanna be/blogger.

The concept for the movie was particularly intriguing. And it got me to thinking about my old cookbooks. Julia Child was into French cuisine and pursued that culinary art, while my collection is more reflective of the melting pot that is America, in particular, the old South. One vintage cookbook that comes to mind is Charleston Receipts, an antiquated volume my mom bought years ago on a family trip to Charleston, South Carolina. Our impoverished family camped at the beach on that particular outing amid one of the worst mosquito infestations and heat waves ever. For my father’s birthday during our stay, we gifted him with a fly swatter, another indication of the plagues with which we were visited.

However, we were highly impressed with historic Charleston–the shining light in our otherwise horrific trip and part of the inspiration behind my historical romance, ENEMY OF THE KING. For more on my work please visit www.bethtrissel.com

Published in 1950 by the (women’s) Junior League, Charleston Receipts is reflective of that time and place and not the least bit politically correct, a recent term. Right or very wrong, History wasn’t enacted with political correctness in mind. It was, what it was.

The Scots’ heritage of many Southerners (including me) is the inspiration behind the inclusion of this recipe for scones. The intro says, “Among the rich and crumbly delights to serve with jams and marmalade are Scones, those our Grandmothers loved to make; not too sweet, not too hearty, but just right as a morsel of goodness to go with the hospitable gesture of a cup of tea and a good gossip.”


2 cups flour

2 eggs

1/2 cup cream

4 tabs butter

1 tsp salt

5 tsps sugar

3 tsps baking powder

Sift dry ingredients, rub in the butter with fingertips. Beat eggs, add cream and mix gently with flour mixture. Roll out to one half an inch in thickness; cut in shapes. Brush with white of an egg. Bake 15 minutes in moderate over at 375. Yield 2 dozen.

Contributed by Mrs. Louis Y. Dawson, Jr. (Virginia Walker)


ChildrenoftheMist_W1894_300 Hi Lyn! Thanks for stopping by today.

I first met Lyn after receiving one of the worst reviews ever. The reviewer apologized, her mom was ill and she was very down. Lyn was one of the kind TWRP authors who emailed me when she saw it. Everyone of my fellow authors was supportive, but Lyn, well she’s very special. Over an ocean away from me, she felt my sadness and her words lifted my spirits. Someone who didn’t know me from Adam took the time to care about my feelings. The goodness in her heart is worth more than gold. It’s a privilege to know her.

It shows in her writing.

Blurb: Two minds united against a common foe. Two hearts afraid to show their love: Long ago Tamarith fell in love with a man she can never have, and is convinced she will never love another. However, she cannot help but be intrigued by a handsome stranger whose psychic powers exceed even her own. Vidarh seeks only to find his true purpose in life and to win the regard of his father, who eschews his son’s psychic abilities. Thrown together by a common threat to their planet, then torn apart by an evil greater than any they could have imagined, can Vidarh save the lovely Nifl woman who has captivated him, before it is too late? Will Tamarith and Vidarh overcome the deadly enemy who threatens to destroy all they know and love? Will they find the happiness they both seek? Or are they fated to live their lives alone?

I didn’t want the same ole question and answer interview so I asked for a window into Lyn’s soul and I got it! I can picture her riding free in the hills, hair blowing behind her and the power of her steed beneath her legs.

Settings and scenery are nearly as important to me in my writing, as the characters. In fact, the settings are actually almost characters themselves, influencing the 'flesh and blood characters' in their actions and they way they live their lives. It's where the heroes and heroines live, breathe - and fall in love. I love the Welsh Mountains, their grandeur and majesty, and hours of solitary riding , taking in their beauty, was a wonderful way of letting my imagination soar and create alien landscapes, with their own mystique and appeal.

My native Wales has inspired nearly everything I've written and many of my imaginary scenes are really based on memories of actual places and the weather conditions that set them in my mind. For instance, watching the mist over the mountains inspired the creation of the planet Niflheim (named after the 'land of mist and cold' of Norse legends) that I used in my first novel, 'Starquest'. Of course Wales is not perpetually covered with snow and shrouded in mist, but that almost ethereal moment sparked the idea of a misty planet in my mind. Niflheim, planet of telepaths, takes up only a small part of the orginal story, but I became fond of the mist shrouded world and her people, especially Tamarith, who becomes a good friend of the heroine in Starquest. So I ended up writing a sequel, entitled 'Children Of The Mist', which is mainly set on Niflheim and takes place about six years after the first book ends.

I'm a great believer in having a 'rationale'. I'm not one of those people who think because it's 'fantasy' and there are dragons, the dragons should be there just 'because it's fantasy' (for the record there aren't any dragons in either book, although I've nothing against dragons.) But - if dragons are in a story, I want to know how they evolved and what their function is, their reason for being. The same thing applies to telepaths. So I decided that the Niflheim had originally been colonised by settlers from Earth. When the early pioneers settled on this new world, at first finding it very inhospitable, cold and misty, many parts covered in ice and snow for much of the year, they had to have something special to enable them to survive when scattered across the planet. They renounced the technology of Earth, with all its problems, but how would they deal with life in such a hostile environment with no means to communicate across miles of unsettled territory? The answer was simple. The colonists would include individuals who each had some extra sensory ability. Over time they would develop and increase these skills until telepathy became their usual form of communication and telekinesis was commonplace. I'm not sure when I first knew that the settlers had called their new planet Nifheim, but as the Norse 'land of cold and mist, it seemed fitting.

The settings for both my novel Starquest, and the sequel Children Of The Mist were very important for both books. It was the same with my story in the Wild Rose Press's series 'Song Of The Muses'. Although 'Dancing With Fate' begins (logically enough) in Ancient Greece, it swiftly moves on to 5th Century Wales. It's natural I suppose, that I should be so inspired by Wales, where I grew up and lived most of my life. Its mountains and lakes are beautiful and mysterious, and the country is full of its own myths and legends which add their own atmosphere to the landscape.

Much of the land is still wild and unspoiled and it was easy to picture it as it might have been sixteen hundred years ago. Why this time period? Well, I love the idea of living close to nature, without the hustle and bustle of modern living. There was another reason too - King Arthur was born around this time and some of the Arthurian legend is woven into my story. Many parts of Wales are named after him and his knights - for instance the name of the 3,000 ft mountain in Snowdonia, Cadair Idris is translated as The seat of Idris. or 'Arthur' As well as lakes and mountains, of course, Wales is full of spectacular waterfalls. A certain waterfall plays a very important part in 'Dancing With Fate'. The muses were, after all, water nymphs, and Terpsichore, the muse of dance, is no exception. In fact, she takes every opportunity to bathe in one, regardless of who might be watching!

As well as human characters I have a number of animal characters in my books as well. 'In Dancing With Fate' the two horses, Hari and Sal are based on my Welsh Cob, Harry, and my old endurance mare, Sally, who sadly I lost last year when she was thirty four years old. I thought it fitting to imortalize her in my story. There are ponies in both Starquest and 'Children Of The Mist as well, genetically modified to withstand the harsh conditions, and descended from the hardy little Fjord ponies. These are mostly sandy or 'buckskin' in color, again very similar to Sally. I also have a large, telepathic bear like creature in both this story and 'Starquest'. He's really more like a dog although he's called an 'ice cat'. The Nifls keep them as pets, and shear them like sheep for their long fleeces. No, I don't have a real ice cat, but I do have a rescued Jack Russell terrier, who, like the ice cat, is extraordinarily intelligent and understands everything I say!

Lyn’s love for her animals is only dwarfed by her love of people. She’s kinda partial to books too. One of these days I hope she is able to move back to her beloved Wales. You never know.


Tamarith stopped and gazed for a moment across the water. The G-type sun, now fully risen, caused the lake to shimmer like a veil of golden silk, with scarcely a ripple disturbing its calm. The pastel-colored walls of the graceful buildings on the shore reflected the glow of both suns. In the distance, the mountains encircling the settlement reached high into the cerulean sky. The swirling mist that hid their summits was as much a part of Niflheim as the earth upon which she and Vidarh stood.

She sensed his mind discreetly touch hers and realized he was staring at her keenly. She turned back to face him, returning his questioning glance and studying him in turn. Taller than average, and broad-shouldered, today he wore a sleeveless, belted leather shirt over thick breeches, with long, icecat-wool lined boots. His upper arms were well muscled, his skin tanned as if he were used to working outdoors. His curly, dark auburn hair, kept away from his face with a plain leather band, reached almost to his shoulders. It caught the sun’s rays and gleamed like the polished dark red wood of the trees that flanked the feet of the mountains.

She took in his clear, hazel eyes, with their friendly twinkle, the long, straight nose, strong jaw line and smiling mouth. He would have been fighting off the local unattached young women if the situation they found themselves in were not so serious. Not that she was particularly interested in his looks, or those of any other man, for that matter.

No, something else about Vidarh of Ragnak excited her curiosity.

It’s about yesterday.

Thanks Lyn for blogging with us today. Lyn’s books can be purchased through the usual online booksellers, and now through The Wild Rose Press Too.

Those of us who know Lyn you are fortunate to call you friend. I am so lucky to be one of them!!

When I was living in California, I read a novel called Dark Rain, a Science Fiction Book Club selection. I enjoyed the story so much, I did a review of it and posted it on amazon.com. A few months ago, I received an e-mail from the author, asking me if I would like to review the second story in the series, Night of Demons. Of course, I said yes. Shortly after that, I received an ARC mailed from England where Tony Richards makes his home. I settled down eagerly to read Night of Demons. Here are my opinions:

Ever since I read Dark Rain, I've been looking forward to reading its sequel. I even said so in my review of that book. Now, I've had my chance and I wasn't disappointed. Night of Demons can be best described as Law and Order meets the X-Files, and then it escalates into sheer terror and mayhem. Once more, Tony Richards takes us back to Raine's Landing for a few fantastic days in the lives of detective Ross DeVries and the magically-inclined inhabitants of that locked-away town. (An explanation here: Raines Landing became a haven for the real witches who escaped Salem. They settled there, intermarried, and were accepted, except for one who ended up being burned at the stake by the townspeople. She left them with a curse--no one born in Raine's Landing can ever leave and anyone coming in from outside can never stay or remember the town after they leave.)

The story begins like a police procedural with serial killer Cornelius Hanlon, dubbed the "Shadow Man," escaping from Boston police, taking a wrong turn and ending up in Raine's Landing. His first act upon arriving is to murder one of the town's leading adepts and steal a mystical wand--the Wand of Dantiere. Created by a madman, no one is aware it was created to bring about the Apocalypse and can only bond with someone who is insane. In Hanlon, it meets its soulmate, and soon more deaths ensue, ordinary people turning into psychotic killers who are reluctantly gunned down by the Landing's police. When Hanlon joins forces with Millicent Tollburn, who has her own reasons for hating the townsfolk, the crimes, which up until this point are merely those of people
running amok, become full-fledged horror, and before it ends, a rift in dimensions showers thousands of demonic creatures upon the town as Hanlon's version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse thunder down its streets.

Enter Lauren Brennan, Detective Lieutenant of the Boston Police, a woman so obsessed with tracking down Hanlon, she ignores the subliminal warnings to stay away from the Landing. By this time, Ross DeVries and his associate Cassie and Landing police Lieutenant Saul Hobart are on the case. Though Lauren at first treats them like country bumpkins, once she's exposed to what passes for everyday life in the little town, she quickly changes her opinion. The Outsider joins forces with the Landing's PD in fighting what Hanlon has become. At the crucial moment, the adepts themselves refuse to help; accepting the power of the Wand, they're huddled together to await the End, so it's up to the townsfolk to save themselves.

One again, we're introduced to characters from the first book--Ross, Cass, the Little Girl, Willets, Saul Hobart, and the by now totally insane and agoraphobic Master of Raine's Landing, Woodard Raine. Numerous mention is made of events occurring in Dark Rain--the attack by the demon Saruak and Ross' part in defeating him and the fact that Ross has been designated some kind of Defender for the town, though he has no idea why--which helps set the stage for what is coming. There is delving into the mental processes of both heroes and villains alike. Millicent Tollburn had been a victim of her grandfather's excursions into sorcery--suffering magical child abuse, if you will--and she erroneously believes her grandfather's colleagues were aware and did nothing. To her, revenge upon the Landing is justified. Hanlon believes the voices he hears are telling him to bring about the Apocalypse,to purge the Earth of all living things so it can be inhabited anew and he's more than willing to help bring it about. Cass and Ross are still individuals scarred and haunted by the loss of their families through magic--families they continue to believe alive in another dimension somewhere--and they've banded together in their grief, dedicating themselves to fighting evil whenever it appears. When he first meets Lauren Brennan, Ross is momentarily shaken, for she bears a startling resemblance to his missing wife, Alicia, and throughout the story, his attraction to her is evident. Considering this, when he invites her to stay at his home, one automatically expects a seduction scene, a brief respite of release in the midst of all the horror, but Ross has the emotional stability to understand Lauren isn't Alicia no matter how much she looks like her and his fidelity to his absent wife prevents him from acting. (Understandable and laudable, but one is so touched by his bereavement that there's a wish for the poor guy to weaken just a little and be allowed a brief moment of pseudo-pleasure.)

Before the story is over, most of the town is demolished, a large portion of the populace is killed, and Ross once more allows himself to be a vessel through which magic is channeled. There's a terrible cost for victory, however, and he loses Cassie to the darkness in her soul and Lieutenant Hobart to near-fatal wounds. Her quest over, Lauren now begins to hear the voices telling her to leave. When she returns to Boston, Ross makes a half-hearted effort to let her know he'd like her to stay but one can see his heart isn't really in it; he's still waiting for his wife and children to somehow, someday return from wherever they're being held. Swearing she won't forgot Ross or the town, and-in spite of the fact that she has a brief moment of amnesia loss-she forces herself to remember.

Kudos, Tony!
I enjoyed every page of Night of Demons and all I can say is, it matches its predecessor in tension, good characterization, and sheer excitement. My only complaint? When it was learned that only an insane person could defeat the power of the Wand, I guessed who that person had to be, but it took several more chapters for any of the characters to figure it out. That, however, is a trivial point. Now, of course, I'm begging for a third book--to recover Cassie, get Saul back into fighting shape, and maybe have Lauren return to the Landing--or at least let Ross learn the true fate of his family...so he can have some kind of closure and perhaps find a little happiness as he continues his quest to learn why he's been appointed Raine's Landing's Defender.

(The writer of this review was given an Advance Review Copy of the novel by the author. Night of Demons goes on sale October 27, 2009.))

DragonCon is is a humongous fan convention held in Atlanta, Georgia every year over Labor Day weekend.

There were mature folks,

Some folks just couldn't stay awake.

LinkThere are hundreds of workshops, shows, parades, and dealers of books, magazines, costumes, and everything to do with horror, fantasy, and futuristic characters, movies and more. That sounds vague but there is too much to explain. The events are staged in four hotels in downtown Atlanta. Yep, four of them. Here are a few of the sights I saw when I escaped the writers tract in search of food.

There were babies, too.


More photos below!

I never knew what I'd see when I left the relative safety of the Writers Track rooms.

Some folks seemed almost normal. Others might put a person off her feed.

Adventurers abounded. Monsters showed up everywhere.

And then there were the folks in costumes and makeup.


Posted by Judy | 7:20 AM | 10 comments »

Desire is a wonderful word. Saying it aloud, rolling the word slowly on my tongue, lowering my voice, makes it a word that invokes a hot sexy image. Spoken in sharp, crisp tones, the word gives me a sense of strong determination. Both can be useful interpretations.
Main characters in novels usually desire something, work hard for it, try and fail and finally succeed so that at the end of the book the reader has a sense of the character’s triumph, of lessons learned, of finding the love and satisfaction we all …ahem… desire.
It doesn’t matter what kind of writing we do--from sweet stories, to steamy romance, to romantic suspense--desire plays a part, not only in our characters’ lives, but in the lives of those of us who create the scenes.
Desire drives me (and many writers I know.) It is the fervent wish to express myself so well that this deep need within me to write will produce something I can offer as a gift to readers who will laugh and cry and find pleasure in what I’ve created. It is what I most desire.
How about you? Do you find this determination the driving force behind you as you sit and work long hours in front of a computer, spinning stories? What drives you?

Joanne--Deal of the Day

Posted by Josie | 6:17 PM | 3 comments »

Hello everyone,
I'm late with this post because I was unable to get online earlier.

Hopefully these 3 deals will still be active.

For the writers who subscribe to the wonderful Mary Buckham's newsletter, you may have already noted that Jon Franklin, one of the authors she interviews this month, is giving away his book, MOLECULES OF THE MIND, and it can be downloaded at no cost from his web site http://www.jonfranklin.com/

Second, Walmart.com has the Honeywall 0.19 cubic foot fire protector for your important documents (think--manuscripts) At $39.00, including shipping, it's a great deal.

Third, if you'd like to really pamper yourself this month, check out the Kate Spade website. There are several handbags at 60% off. True, these handbags are expensive, but add the code GLAMBAG for an extra 25% off and free shipping.

Happy shopping!

"I can't afford to save any more money."--Favorite quote

Okay, keeping in mind I'm only about 8 hours late on this blog, I profusely apologize. One thing in my favor, I waded through the proverbial mud and made it here. Again let me say I am so sorry to be posting so late.

This has been a crazy month for me and the Black Rose Line. We are suddenly busier than ever with submissions. Yay! That means we are doing our jobs and putting the line out there and keeping it visible. I am also excited to announce that we have just unveiled our new Black Rose Blog and I have been busy with the setup and invites and on and on... I know Mama knows all about that. Please drop by and meet the editors and authors. September is introduction month and we will be in full swing as of October 1st.

Also, at the Black Rose Line we have the much anticipated release of the Got Wolf? anthologies. If you remember we celebrated last year with the kick off of a writers' contest, namely Got Wolf? Well those winning stories are included in two anthology collections(Volume 1 to release 10/9 and Volume 2 to release 10/16).

We will be celebrating the releases and Paranormal month at TWRP on the blog with give-aways and author spotlights all month long. Get to know the books, the authors, the creatures they write about and the history behind them. Also, we will have articles on the history of Halloween/Samhain itself and how it is celebrated all over the world.

Don't miss the festivities this year. It promises to be lots of fun. TWRP itself will be having lots going on as well. When I have more details on this, I will certainly let you all know. Paranormal month at The Wild Rose Press includes both Black Rose and Faery Rose Imprints so it will definitely be a blast.

Please do drop by the blog and check us out. Black Rose is always looking for that unique dark paranormal story with an unexpected twist on the traditional creatures who dwell in the darker side of the garden. For more detail on submissions guidelines please visit our submissions page.

I'm here if you have any questions. Thank you for having me here today or should I say this evening.

Callie Lynn Wolfe
Senior Editor, Black Rose Imprint
The Wild Rose Press

In Memory of

Posted by Mary Marvella | 1:45 PM | 21 comments »

I suspect some of us awoke this morning without considering the date.I seldom know what date it is.

On September 11, eight years ago, the United States of America experienced an attack that saddened us, angered us, and ate at our sense of security. That we might forget is human, as is the fact that December 7, no longer stands out as an historic date. That one brought our country into a world war.

Please take stock of the significance and get on with making your life count and your country proud.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

If you haven't read Autumn's blog yesterday, scroll down and read it. You'll be glad you did!

Be here tomorrow to see what our own editor, Callie Wolfe has to say!

Late last evening, feeling angst and sporting a headache that throbbed against my skull, I took a walk in the dark. My only companion, the moon. With his hair over one eye, he watched over me—saved me from the dark shadows. I gazed up into his face and wondered about the billions of people who’ve gone on to the next world before me, the ones who had dumped their troubles on him. The ones who had shared with him their dreams. The ones who had laughed and loved under his twilight.

I wondered about their stories. Some are known by all of us. Some by a few.
As I walked, I gaze over the valley that was my great grandparent’s farm, now divided among their children’s children. I know my great grandparent’s names. I can tell you they lay in the cemetery on the rise to the east. I can tell you their birth and death dates. However, I don’t know what they were like as people. Did they enjoy music or reading? Were reserve or outgoing? What was their favorite time of the year? Or their favorite foods? Did they believe and trust in the Almighty? What were their dreams?

We have pictures of course with names scribbled on the back, but by who? We have ledgers and invoices of transactions stored in the old farm house attic, but no personal memoirs. Knowing this, sadness crept in my heart as I crossed an open field. I wished someone had left behind their words for me. Told me who they were. Left a clue as to who I called my pass.

At that moment, the moon winked at me and from within I heard, “You were given the gift of the written word. Why haven’t you left behind words for your children or grandchildren or great grandchildren? Not all will seek them, but there will be one who will. Like you, they will cherish the memories you share and pass them on to another who well cherish their heritage. And so on.”

Stunned, I gaped into his one eye. The ancient man was right. He winked again and turned into a cloud, probably to advise someone else. I finished one swallow of crisp night and with a light step headed for home. I pulled from a drawer a diary given to me one Christmas years ago and wrote; September 9th, 2009. Within these pages you will come to know who I was, what I felt passionate about, and what were my dreams. My hope is I will teach something of the pass, something that will make you a stronger person and that I’ll touch you in some way. With love, your heritage.